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Guy Fawkes Night - Bonfire Organisation

by Julian Stacey

This information is only for organisers, not the public.
How To Build A Fire For Guy Fawkes
Julian's notes from doing it 2004.
  • Julian was responsible for this in 2004; Roger has many years experience, but as it was all new to Julian & freshly learnt & typed the day after, hopefully this covers most things.
Draft. In Roughly chronological order.

Responsibility is not to personally build the fire ! but to ensure a good big fire is built - subtle difference ! It's more important to co-ordinate everyone & get maximal people working efficiently, without waiting for directions, for a big stable bonfire, before it gets dark, than it is to just concentrate on personally building the fire.

Select a reliable mechanically sound deputy for when/if you are absent (fetching tools, in tent fixing gas, fireworks etc).

Recruit & encourage as much work as possible from as many as possible, Inspire by example, when you are seen running about sawing & chopping, hot, then pausing to ask for help, people stood around cold & bored are more inclined to help, than if you'r just un-noticed in the distance fiddling with kindling. If raining, invite people to keep warm(er) by helping (more), they don't mind a spot of rain or drizzle nearly so much if actively working.

Set aside a long pole for the guy, Allocate someone to tie the guy on (in many places else will fall apart).

Diesel: Use at least 3 litres of diesel if damp/wet, not the 2 litres I used in 2004 Take plastic gloves to open & pour diesel with: Diesel will get on your hands, there's nowhere to wash it off, it will get off your hands on to your baked potato or parkin etc later. R's's can is damn tight, top needs to be pushed down Very hard before anti clockwise rotation to open. Practice while still light).

Orient aperture toward prevailing wind ie Gaststaette.

Build the main support tripod out of 3 long straights with knobbly bits so rope wont slip. Make the knots real loose so wont break when pulling up. Tie the 3 on the ground before pulling up with at least at least 4 strong adults (1 for each pole + 1 on standby) I boss to co-ordinate that potentially very heavy bit, not 2 in charge !

Keep the bow saw for experienced people, as blades on that can break easily, & no spare blade, & the inexperienced don't use it properly. Use it to saw up the remaining monster pieces that will otherwise be too enormous for one man to throw on the fire later when it's burning (you may not want them on earlier, as too big & heavy & may destabilise the fire)

Get the tripod erected as early as possible, it save some language & conceptual problems explaining the outer circle where wood is to be deposited. (Many helpers still don't understand though, why the radius is so enormous, so explain its a safety barrier for spectators, when burning, & a working area for fire builders prior to that, & later extra fuel to add to burning fire. It is not the outer radius of a truly monstrous bonfire !

Optionally save 1 or 2 straight lengths to push stuff on fire later with. (I didn't need this in '04 but some years I think it's been useful ?).

Warn the firework team before they leave the field, that if they are running late to pay in Gaststaette, to give the money to someone else to pay & get back on time (*)

Get spare gloves back of helpers before they leave field as it gets dark (or ask them to leave them at the tent.) (I forgot to do this in '04).

Ensure not all branches above the ignition hole are vertical. Put in some horizontals to propagate the flames during ignition phase. Or Pack it tighter than I as a beginner did in 2004.

Contact Firework team, Check their progress, Arrange warning a few minutes before last firework to start fire. (As teams often change, check eg rocket launching sticks are not vertical, but point toward empty field away from spectators, spare rockets pointing away etc. Ensure there's a long line across top of field, etc. (not a dinky little barrier round firework launch area).

(*) Expect that if its your first year, you won't have time for the Gaststaette. Expect you may be called to secure gas hoses in tent.

Get a bunch of children to screw up loads of newspaper - They like to help.

Remove surplus tools to car.

Lay fire in hole (later the better if raining). Paper under, fine brushwood, fine kindling, coarser kindling.

Dismiss kids before applying diesel.

Pre-dose some newspaper early, the smell then warns people it's now an operational area, & parents keep their kids away.

(*) Be prepared that a firework launcher may be late in Gaststaette paying, & that you may be co-opted to firework team.

Toward end of fireworks sprinkle on the rest of the diesel from as high as possible, to cover not just kindling, but branches above.

Remove empty diesel can to far side of ring well away from public.


Insert more cross sticks & brushwood if need be, to keep initial fire going.

Place/ throw more big branches on fire, ( with one other helper (not more in dark, not safe to quickly throw branches unless 2 people are spaced well apart).

After fire is well going, & any unexpectedness from Diesel is well past, declare it open season for adults (but not children) to toss more on.

Remove diesel container to car.

At end, do not allow any firework remnant on fire until end of evening when all have gone home (if even then - there's always some that seem dead & are Not dead.

When removing last tools & part emptying tent, ensure no one has borrowed tools eg axe from landowner (Dr Breitling), & failed to return it, ( despite tool owner telling borrower he must return it). We normally try to return lost property to Munich, but we don't want Mariabrunn stuff being brought back to Munich on the assumption it belongs to a GEA member who has forgotten it, ( as in 2004.)

At home, don't dump firework clothes in bedroom: remnant diesel fumes can build overnight & cause a headache.

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